Monday, January 11, 2010

First do no harm.

Current book: The Wings of the Dove
Pages read: 350 (133) - 436 (219)

You know, it's not often that I find myself reading a book in which I get to the bottom of the page, pause, and go, "Wait, what?" Henry James, though - if anyone can get me to do it, he can.

Well, despite the fog of intricate syntax, I've managed to divine the following: Milly doesn't actually have feelings for Merton, though Kate thinks she does. Kate and Merton are still very much in love. Aunt Maud asks Milly to come and stay with her as a...I don't know, permanent houseguest, I guess...but Milly declines. In the meantime, Milly asks Kate to accompany her to visit a doctor and to keep the visit secret. Milly learns, from the doctor, who clearly subscribes to the "women shouldn't be told any actual information about their health" school of medicine (also known as the "misogynist bullshit" school), that she should go see everything she possibly can and live life to the fullest. Clearly, she's going to die. So, Kate knows this, but no one else does. Merton chooses this moment to return from his trip to the States, and immediately meets with Kate, soon after which she tells him that he has to go see Milly, because Milly is in love with him. Merton, rightfully so, is confused by this message (and he's not the only one), coming, as it does, from his affianced, and wants to know why he should do such a thing. Kate provides no explanation, but it seems to me that she wants him to dance attendance on Milly so that the poor girl can experience love before she snuffs it.

That's all. Again, far too many pages for this information, and lots of them consisted of long-winded description of the attitudes of various characters that would have been better delivered through action and the observation thereof than through paragraphs of narration. There's actually disconcertingly little dialogue in this novel, when you think about it.

Also, can we go back to the horrible doctor thing? Put yourself in this position: you go to your doctor, concerned that you may have a terminal disease, and he says, "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it. But you should go see everything you want to see that's important, travel as much as possible, and really live life to the fullest." What would you do? Cause I'm pretty sure I'd sock him in the face and get a second opinion. Sometimes I forget how condescending the world was to women know, almost all of recorded history. Also, this kind of thing is why I don't like doctors. You can't trust them. They're always telling you things like, "Your eczema is caused largely by stress. Try to relax." Sure, doc. I'll get right on that.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, except for the condescending "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it," the rest of the advice--". . . see everything you want to see that's important, travel as much as possible, and really live life to the fullest"--is very good, and I highly recommend it.



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